Palringo doubles revenues to $14 million through games

palringoRapidly growing chat-based games company Palringo said it has 2014 annual revenues of $14 million, up 100% from 2013 revenues of $7 million.

Based in London’s Shoreditch, Palringo has more than 35 million global customers, a figure that is rising one million per month as the business model of playing games within messaging platforms takes hold. Out of that $14 million revenue, 85% was from games, of which the profit margin was 50%.

Palringo offers a range of games along with more than 350,000 groups, some of which have up to 2,000 members. The business model is based around selling virtual products such as rich media sticker packs, Bots and functional utilities within the messaging platform.

The company’s move into games came in Q2 2013 when it acquired Swedish social and mobile games developer Free Lunch Games when internal data revealed that the most popular groups across Palringo’s communities were based around game titles such as Clash of Clans. It was also a neat strategy to differentiate itself from the better-known messaging platforms of SnapChat and WhatsApp.

“Gaming has always been a dominant theme within Palringo communities. Over the past couple of years, we have developed that trend by creating games that work within the community directly and more recently by building an innovative gaming capability that allows us to further develop our model of bringing together community and gaming on mobile,” said Tim Rea, Palringo CEO.

A typical example of a game inside Palringo would be the traditional game of Hangman. Customers buy the Hangman bot, and launch it in a chatroom of their choice. The company sells packs of ‘coins’, (for example, 300 for $3) and this currency is used to play the game with their chatroom friends.

Meet the modern open-source toys – The Offbits

offbitsThese four fine creations that have been superimposed on the Abbey Road zebra crossing are The Offbits, an open-source toy that the customer makes for measure. The Offbits come in a small and cool cardboard box and are a medley of springs and cast metal that are assembled by hand.

For somebody who finds it difficult to change a lightbulb, let alone a fuse, it took me some time to get to grips with the Offbits, but succeed I finally did. Then I swapped a few colours and pieces around and had a lot of fun… as did my 11-year-old son.

While I couldn’t stop thinking about the Smash Martians, the extraterrestrial heroes of a 1970s TV potato ad, the Offbits are modern and alluring. The company behind them is raising funds on Kickstarter next month – might be worth a small investment.

From analogue Madchester to digital Manchester

haciendaIt is almost 30 years since something started coming out of Manchester. I remember the point it went mainstream about 1988 when I was up there with friends. ITV showed a fantastic video of the drugged-up Happy Mondays around 1.30am. Nothing scheduled, they just decided to broadcast it.

A personal Summer of Love followed. A despatch-rider all week in London, park the bike at Euston station and up to Manchester on the 6pm train. A few beers, picked up by mates, down the Red Lion in Wythenshawe, then Afflecks Palace for some shopping on Saturday morning, a City game at Maine Road, the Hacienda until God-Knows-What-Time the next morning, back at the Red Lion for lunch followed by football in the park, some jazz at the Newcastle Steam Brewery, then back to London on the midnight milk train, ready to call in for work at 7am. Happy, happy days, even happy Mondays if you get my drift.

Much has changed in these three decades. While London is now almost free of despatch-riders because of technology rendering most expensive deliveries obsolete, Manchester has struggled to keep up with London’s ascension as one of the major technology hubs in the world.

But that may finally be set to change with the launch of a new digital festival in the city, highlighted by the Innov8 Startup Award sponsored by Google and UKFast. The festival launches on May 7th and positions itself as ‘the coolest tech festival in Europe’ covering digital, tech, ecommerce, startups, mobile, video, advertising and gaming.

Moreover, in the spirit of the old Madchester days, the typical conference schedule will be broken up by live acoustic performances and DJ sets. Probably no sign of the Happy Mondays or other sundries, but you never know.

I’m going to speak there as well as Martin Bryant, Editor-in-Chief at The Next Web and many others and the Innov8 Startup Award should be an interesting competition to see how evolved the Manchester tech scene has become… the prize package includes £100k of Google cloud credit and an exclusive support package with ongoing mentoring from industry experts.

“The event is the perfect stage to showcase the launch of the Google Developers Startup programme. I’m sure it will be a great event and I hope the first instalment of an impressive future going forward”, said Rupert Whitehead, Developer Relations Programs Lead, UK, Ireland and Nordics at Google.

“We are still an unfunded startup, reaching this point through hard work and passion, without a penny in the bank. To gain the backing of the world’s biggest brand proves that if you have the right team in place and never stop following your dreams you can achieve anything. This is going to rock Manchester and change the face of the digital landscape in the city forever,” said Jonathon Cadden – Founder, Business Rocks and organiser of the festival.

In its heyday, Madchester made the front cover of Time magazine and for a few heady months was the coolest place on the planet. Perhaps those times will come again now that the city is hugging the digital revolution as strongly as ‘refreshed’ clubbers used to do to each other at The Hacienda.

Ah, memories… in the corner of my mind.

Games investors queue for PG tips in London

mobile_gamesThe mobile games industry is now a $25 billion business and next month’s Pocket Gamer Connects conference in London will be as celebratory as it is influential.

Taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday (13th/14th January) near London Bridge, the conference brings together more than 850 attendees and 150 speakers from more than 40 countries, of which 70 are developers. A varied track of sessions and keynotes from mobile games mavens make it an industry cynosure and the first important trade event of the year.

Most interestingly (and almost par for every global conference nowadays) there is a pitching session from 2pm on 13th January where more than 10 Finnish developers are pitching to an array of VCs and investors for Series A funding.

At time of writing, there were still a limited number of investor slots still available to find the latest Rovio Mobile or Supercell mobile games behemoth. To see an investor pack click here or register directly here.

“The $25 billion mobile games industry is still growing at an amazing rate and the Finnish mobile games development scene is pretty much the hottest on the planet right now.

“Pocket Gamer Connects is all about connecting people, so we’re delighted to be able to bring together ten of the most promising upcoming Finnish companies with some of the worlds smartest investors – the results should be interesting!”, said Chris James, Pocket Gamer CEO.

I shall also be at the show next Tuesday and Wednesday to find some stories and meet some interesting and smart people. Please reach out to me by email if you would like to meet up – monty.munford@gmail.com

Influential Israelis Blonde 2.0 Boston bound

blonde_bostonNotwithstanding the sparkly element of the picture and that we are obviously superstars, the adjacent picture is at a recent event in London’s Soho House, with Mike Butcher, editor-at-large of TechCrunch, some bloke in the background, my good self and Blonde 2.0 founder Ayelet Noff .

Blonde 2.0 is an award-winning tech-focused communications company and was founded by Ayelet eight years ago in Tel Aviv. Almost a decade on, it has decided to open its first office outside Israel in the rarified city of Boston, Massachusetts. They are very good at their job.

The company’s clientele includes tech giants such as Viber, StoreDot and Yo, as well as more than 70 other clients and will focus on providing services to startups and technology-focused companies in the US. It also works for VCs such as Rhodium, Singulariteam and Shaked Ventures.

“Expanding overseas is the next logical step for us. For several years now, the majority of our clients have come from outside Israel, so we wanted to add a location that will boost our ability to service and communicate with clients from around the world. We chose Boston since we already have great clients there, and good ties to the business community in the city,” said Blonde Co-CEO Motti Peer.

Blonde 2.0 is headquartered in Tel Aviv and employs 25 people and you may have noticed from the picture that Ayelet is a brunette, not a blonde, a fact that has no relevance at all to the rest of the content of this piece.